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The Fakeout, the Tease & the Breather

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Audio CD, May 18, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

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Considering Canasta has been a staple - perhaps even the unspoken centerpiece - of Chicago's orchestral pop contingent this millennium, it's hard to believe that this is just their second full-length. But Canasta doesn't profess to be any sort of lightning rod for the muses. The members are probably better described as pop craftsmen. Their composition process may take time, but it elicits serious pride in the end result.


Chicago loves its sweet, sprawling pop bands. From transplants Poi Dog Pondering to the natives of the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, or even Michigan visitors the Great Lakes Myth Society, somehow we make these big bands feel at home on often tiny stages. This summer, the cheerful half-dozen souls in Canasta return with a sophomore set that cements the sunny ambition that shone on its debut EP ("Find the Time," 2004) and album ("We Were Set Up," 2005).

Take the title however you want. Maybe the EP was the fakeout, the first album was the tease and this finely honed, controlled but still somehow breezy album is the breather. Those words also accurately describe the self-contained trilogy of the opening track, "Becoming You" -- an organ-buoyed opening switches to a piano-based ballad swirled with singer Matt Priest's quivery Neil Tennant-at-the-cabaret voice, before exhaling through a positively Sufjanriffic breakdown, complete with spunky piano and languid violins. The tone is set for an album of open-air chamber pop that sounds like it wants to go haywire (and become a mess) but has been expertly subdued and shaped and is thus sublime.

Another controlled burn is the romantic ramble of "I Don't Know Where I Was Going With This." Mulling over the life signs of a new love, Priest ponders, "We swore if the spark expired / we'd bury this without a service / It's possible that's transpired / I thought I'd know, but I'm getting nervous." His nerves hum in the synthesizer underneath the tune, which buzzes like summer evening bugs. In the end, the bugs and the band swarm in a swelling conclusion as the title is repeated and repeated, the confusion growing and growing, then dropping out and leaving the male and female voices to question each other in near darkness. Pop rarely sounds this warm and natural when it's this intricately composed. -- Thomas Connor, Chicago Sun Times, June 2, 2010

The orchestrated pop on this local sextet's new full-length, The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather (RWIM Chicago), is so perfect--every note falling into place with deeply satisfying craftsmanship--that you'll swear you've heard it before. But you haven't, unless it was in one of Obama's online campaign videos--the band performed at an early fund-raiser with him and later provided music for ads. Bandleaders Matt Priest (lead vocals, bass, trombone) and Elizabeth Lindau (vocals, violin, keyboard) are just tuned into some form of divine radio where all the best of indie pop, yacht rock, and sad troubadour folk present themselves in virgin form. The uncomfortably intimate "Plan Your Escape," the slinky "Appreciation," and the sweetly bitter "Shortcut" set the tone for the revelation that this sad puppy has teeth. -- Monica Kendrick, Chicago Reader, May 6, 2010

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Product details

  • Audio CD (May 18, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RWIM Chicago
  • ASIN: B003O9HZQQ
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,127,370 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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September 27, 2010
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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